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Why is Ascension Day so important?

What would you identify as the climax and completion of Jesus’ life and ministry? Surprisingly, this is not a trivial question. One of the key differences between John and the synoptic gospels is that, where the synoptics portray the crucifixion as a necessary but incomplete act on the way to the resurrection, John portrays it […]

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What is the pastoral impact of eschatology?

In my new Grove booklet on eschatology, after outlining eschatological expectation in Old and New Testaments, I end my reflecting on the pastoral implications of what we have found.There are many aspects of Christian living which are affected by our understanding of eschatology, and where misunderstanding creates serious obstacles both within the church and at […]

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Why don’t we talk about the end of the world more?

My latest Grove Booklet is now available and it offers an overview of eschatology—beliefs about the end things—starting with background ideas in the Old Testament and looking at the key issues in the Gospels, Paul and Revelation. My introduction explains why this is such an important issue. Eschatology, meaning ‘understanding of last things,’ is of […]

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Disappointment and God’s sovereignty

I wonder if you have heard this kind of story recently. A friend of yours is perhaps happy in a particular job or ministry role, or perhaps senses a need for change. An new opportunity comes up, and something stirs in your friend. Other people sense the same, and perhaps get in touch. ‘Could this […]

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Hope and fulfilment in the gospels

Biblical eschatology is founded on three key assumptions. The first is that the God of Israel is the rightful ruler of the world (and not just of Israel alone), often described in terms of his kingship over the creation. The second is that, even though this is the situation in theory, in practice the world […]

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Interpreting the sheep and the goats in Matt 25

Jesus’ ‘parable’ of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25.31–46 is very well known and widely misinterpreted. It forms one part of the extended teaching about ‘the end’ distinctive to Matthew (compared with Mark and Luke). It is most commonly interpreted as an injunction to help the poor; most Christians (in the West at least) read […]

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How soon will God act?

Unless you are a deist (even perhaps a moral therapeutic deist) then belief in the orthodox understanding of the Trinity implies an expectation that God, by his Spirit, is at work in the world and in the life of the believer. In 1 Corinthians, Paul describes the active work of the Spirit in the congregation […]

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What is the meaning of the Ascension?

What would you identify as the climax and completion of Jesus’ life and ministry? Surprisingly, this is not a trivial question. One of the key differences between John and the synoptic gospels is that, where the synoptics portray the crucifixion as a necessary but incomplete act on the way to the resurrection, John portrays it […]

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What does resurrection mean?

The idea of resurrection is central to Christian belief and theology—but it is also the key idea which separates the New Testament from the Old. The Old Testament appears to assume that, after death, people continue in some sort of shadowy existence in a place called Sheol—often translated ‘grave’ or ‘pit’ in English Bibles. There are some examples of resuscitation (see 1 Kings 17:17-24 and 2 Kings 4:18-37)—but these are acts of compassion and never shed any light on life after death.

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Who’d want to be perfect?

I have become unexpectedly gripped by the new sci-fi drama on Channel 4, Humans—and I am not the only one. It has become Channel 4’s biggest drama since The Camomile Lawn in 1992. It is set in an alternative present, where robots have been developed far enough to look human and are known as ‘synths.’ […]

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